T Nation

46 Yr Old Gettin' Back in the Game

Was doing some searches on the web for “Weight Lifting in your 40’s” and came across this site. Saw some awesome posts by some 40+ lifters, and it prompted me to join.

Lifted mostly in my early 30’s…fast forward 15 years, and add a wife, 2 kids, and a demanding career (nothin you guys and gals aren’t already dealing with…). Decided to get back in the game.

Have always had some form of equipment at home - due to a devastating house fire a few years ago (a whole other story), I ended up buying a PowerTech work bench. Really like it because it’s self-spotting, and it’s a great compromise between machine and free weights.

Have finally gotten into a routine that seems to be working. My biggest challenge is time, so this is what I’ve been doing. Would like feedback/comments. I target 4 days, but don’t beat myself up too bad if I only get 3 in…

Upper Body (Chest / Back / Tri’s):

  • Start with a few minutes on the recumbent bike (just enough to get the blood flowing)
  • Flat Bench / Wide Grip Lat Pulls (I do 1 set of bench, then move over to lat pulls with no rest) - 3 sets of each
  • Incline Bench / Seated Rows (same principle as above) - 3 sets
  • Close Grip bench - 3 sets
  • Tricep pushdowns
  • Finish with a little crunch work

Lower Body:

  • Same warmup as above
  • Squats / Military presses - 3 sets
  • Calve raises / Front delt lifts - 3 sets
  • Standing curls (with EZ-Curl Bar) - 3 sets
  • Pronating curls - 3 sets
  • Again, finish with some crunch work

On some things I’m limited because I don’t have a good set of dumbells yet (so I use individual plates)

It’s going pretty well so far - like it because it’s pretty efficient - not much waiting between sets, so I’m ALWAYS moving.
Really starting to hit a stride where I’m breaking down the muscle pretty good - able to do increases most workouts (5# or 10# on small movements, 20# or 30# on larger movements like squats). Still finding that failure point…

Overall goals:

  • Get back in the game
  • Look better without a shirt
  • Lose some fat
  • Regain some muscle
    –> Biggest Goal Right Now: Maintain consistency…

Comments?

Welcome :slight_smile:

Welcome!

X3!

46 and just starting the game, well at least two years now, or better… I have written down your W/O and thought I’d give 'er a try. Bit from looking at it, it seems like a pretty good W/O.

Welcome. You plan to use this thread as your log?

[quote]Aenead wrote:
46 and just starting the game, well at least two years now, or better… I have written down your W/O and thought I’d give 'er a try. Bit from looking at it, it seems like a pretty good W/O. [/quote]

One thing I like about it is there really is not much rest - you’re constantly moving. You finish a set of flat bench, and while your pecs are recovering, you’re working your lats on wide grip lat pulls. Got the tip from a friend of mine, and tweaked it to fit my routine and the gear I have at home.

[quote]Derek542 wrote:
Welcome. You plan to use this thread as your log?[/quote]

Didn’t think about that. Is that just a matter of posting weights / reps from each workout? I currently use an iPad app to log my workouts. if it would help others - or if it would motivate me (which i suspect it would), I may do that.

One thing that may throw others off - I use a PowerTec work bench at home, so the weights don’t correlate exactly with free weights in the gym. I like the PowerTec because it’s a nice blend between machines and free weights - and it’s self spotting.

If there’s interest in me using this thread as my log, I’m willing…may need a little instruction tho’

A lot of us use it just a thought, helps with keeping you accountable and advice form others. Check out some of the threads here you will see how most of us use it.

Welcome aboard! I too am anâ??old timerâ??, a 47 year old who has been back in the game for about six years now. What I can tell you is donâ??t expect the old body at 47 to do the same thing it could at 41! He-he.

Like you, I also found this site doing some internet searches on lifting for the over 40 athlete and come upon T-Nation. Having recently read Dan Johnâ??s book, â??Never Let Goâ??, he mentions the T-Nation website countless times, so when I found it I stayed and lingered. (If you havenâ??t read Johnâ??s book I suggest you do, there is much in there that is of the interest for the over 40 lifter, mostly because Dan has been down a lot of the same roads we have).
But anyway, I would say your routine looks good, but if you can lift 4x per week and keep it up over the long haul, then I envy you. My body can only handle 2x per weekâ?¦maybe 3.
Guys our age had the misfortune or fortune, however you want to look at it, to grow up in the â??Weider Ageâ?? of weight training where we pumped, blasted, super-setted, and annihilated our muscles into submission 5 days per week, and bench pressed and curled on every one of them in an attempt to be like our hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Today, I am just glad to say that I can continue to lift, which is a victory in and of itself. I canâ??t lift the same poundages I could when I was in my 20â??s and 30â??s, but I can go to the gym and get in my scheduled workouts and shoot the bull with the fellas just like old times.
As a Master lifter, you have to be respectful of your bodyâ??s diminished recovery ability, something that I dismissed for years as just plain defeatism. Lately, and this I suspect is a result of being a little older and wiser, I began to discover some of the classic workout programs that are as old as dirt, such as the Doug Hepburn program and Bill Starrâ??s 5x5 program, but have been relegated to the scrap heap due to their lack of imagination and suspicious simplicity. I mean, in the eyes of an 18 year old back in the 80â??s, how could one get big by only doing 3 basic exercises and not going to absolute failure? Give me the Weider muscle confusion and overload principles!

Iâ??m not going to detail out the 5x5 or the Doug Hepburn programs here, any search on this site or on the internet will give you all the details you need to get started with these excellent programs. Over the course of my return the last five years, I fumbled around with many programs that I thought represented Old School (ex. Weider reduex, Stuart McRobert, HIT, Draper push-pull, Zane blasting routines, etc.) I am glad I finally rediscovered real â??Old Schoolâ?? with 5x5 and Doug Hepburn.

I used to compete in powerlifting back in my 20â??s, so I am currently in the midst of a 5x5 program to build a solid base for the rigors of a more specific powerlifting cycle. So far, so good. But alas, as with many over 40 lifters, I am currently hampered by some old injuries. They include: surgery 20 years ago on a congenitally dislocated elbow leaving the joint weak, pins and screws in my wrist, bouts with disc problems and sciatica in the lower back, and sometimes achy knees. But I have learned to train around them and understand my limitations because of them.

With 5x5, I like the â??powerbuildingâ?? concept and how it is reminiscent of the old mentality when there werenâ??t such clear-cut distinctions between a the muscle-building disciplines of bodybuilding, powerlifting, and Olympic lifting like there is today. There was a time within the brotherhood of iron it wasnâ??t unusual for athletes to pursue the various forms concurrently.

Now thatâ??s Old School, and I love it. Good luck!

[quote]goose64 wrote:
Welcome aboard! I too am anâ??old timerâ??, a 47 year old who has been back in the game for about six years now. What I can tell you is donâ??t expect the old body at 47 to do the same thing it could at 41! He-he.

Like you, I also found this site doing some internet searches on lifting for the over 40 athlete and come upon T-Nation. Having recently read Dan Johnâ??s book, â??Never Let Goâ??, he mentions the T-Nation website countless times, so when I found it I stayed and lingered. (If you havenâ??t read Johnâ??s book I suggest you do, there is much in there that is of the interest for the over 40 lifter, mostly because Dan has been down a lot of the same roads we have).
But anyway, I would say your routine looks good, but if you can lift 4x per week and keep it up over the long haul, then I envy you. My body can only handle 2x per weekâ?¦maybe 3.
Guys our age had the misfortune or fortune, however you want to look at it, to grow up in the â??Weider Ageâ?? of weight training where we pumped, blasted, super-setted, and annihilated our muscles into submission 5 days per week, and bench pressed and curled on every one of them in an attempt to be like our hero, Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Today, I am just glad to say that I can continue to lift, which is a victory in and of itself. I canâ??t lift the same poundages I could when I was in my 20â??s and 30â??s, but I can go to the gym and get in my scheduled workouts and shoot the bull with the fellas just like old times.
As a Master lifter, you have to be respectful of your bodyâ??s diminished recovery ability, something that I dismissed for years as just plain defeatism. Lately, and this I suspect is a result of being a little older and wiser, I began to discover some of the classic workout programs that are as old as dirt, such as the Doug Hepburn program and Bill Starrâ??s 5x5 program, but have been relegated to the scrap heap due to their lack of imagination and suspicious simplicity. I mean, in the eyes of an 18 year old back in the 80â??s, how could one get big by only doing 3 basic exercises and not going to absolute failure? Give me the Weider muscle confusion and overload principles!

Iâ??m not going to detail out the 5x5 or the Doug Hepburn programs here, any search on this site or on the internet will give you all the details you need to get started with these excellent programs. Over the course of my return the last five years, I fumbled around with many programs that I thought represented Old School (ex. Weider reduex, Stuart McRobert, HIT, Draper push-pull, Zane blasting routines, etc.) I am glad I finally rediscovered real â??Old Schoolâ?? with 5x5 and Doug Hepburn.

I used to compete in powerlifting back in my 20â??s, so I am currently in the midst of a 5x5 program to build a solid base for the rigors of a more specific powerlifting cycle. So far, so good. But alas, as with many over 40 lifters, I am currently hampered by some old injuries. They include: surgery 20 years ago on a congenitally dislocated elbow leaving the joint weak, pins and screws in my wrist, bouts with disc problems and sciatica in the lower back, and sometimes achy knees. But I have learned to train around them and understand my limitations because of them.

With 5x5, I like the â??powerbuildingâ?? concept and how it is reminiscent of the old mentality when there werenâ??t such clear-cut distinctions between a the muscle-building disciplines of bodybuilding, powerlifting, and Olympic lifting like there is today. There was a time within the brotherhood of iron it wasnâ??t unusual for athletes to pursue the various forms concurrently.

Now thatâ??s Old School, and I love it. Good luck!

[/quote]

Goose - thanks for the insights…
I’m shooting for 4x a week, but that really is a challenge given work schedule, family, and kids. This week I got in 3 (so far). Have some work to do today, but may still be to get one more in today.

I am finding that as I stick with it regularly, my strength is coming back - I’ve been able to hit 12 reps on most sets, even when I increase the weight. If I hit 12 reps, I try to bump up the weight, but am probably taking too long to really find my plateaus - but I am pushing myself, so as long as I do that, I’m happy.

Have really been focusing on keeping good form - and liking the classic core movements (squats, flat bench, and military presses). Really focusing on keeping good form - afraid of an injury at this age.

[quote]Derek542 wrote:
A lot of us use it just a thought, helps with keeping you accountable and advice form others. Check out some of the threads here you will see how most of us use it. [/quote]

Derek - That probably is a good idea. It would help keep me accountable. I probably need to let go of the pride issue (not lifting anywhere near what I was lifting 15 years ago) - and stop being afraid to post my meager weights on the site.

But - I think I’ll do it…

[quote]Aenead wrote:
46 and just starting the game, well at least two years now, or better… I have written down your W/O and thought I’d give 'er a try. Bit from looking at it, it seems like a pretty good W/O. [/quote]

Aenead - the more I follow the routine, the more I like it. It’s pretty efficient - I usually finish in about 30-40 minutes - including 5 minutes of cardio just to get the blood flowing.

Noticed the past 2 workouts that when I superset my squats with military presses, I’m breathing so hard after squats, that it messes with my breathing rhythm on my military presses. But, I guess that’s a good problem to have!

Will try posting as a log now…getting over the pride thing - my weights are nowhere near what they used to be, and they are hard to correlate to free weights (remember - I’m using a PowerTec Work Bench), but I’ll start posting. The weights listed are just the plates put on the machine.

Here’s chest/back/tri’s from Tuesday (9/18):
Flat Bench / Wide Grip Lat Pulls:
80x12 / 70x12 / 100x12 / 90x12 / 120x10 / 110x7 (1st set is flat bench, 2nd set are wide grips, 3rd is flat bench, and so on)

Incline Bench / Seated Rows:
60x12 / 50x12 / 80x12 / 70x12 / 100x8 / 90x5

Close Grip Bench
40x12 / 60x12 / 70x8

Pushdowns (cable with V-bar)
35x12 / 45x12 / 55x10 / 40x12

Finished with 60 crunches

Pretty good workout - gotta keep elbows in a little tight to prevent elbow pain (started getting sharp pain if I keep arms parallel to the bar, so I moved them in closer to my sides).

I think I moved flat bench, wide grip, incline, and seated rows up 10 pounds from the previous workout.
Increased close grips and pushdowns 5 pounds from last workout. Also added a 4th set of pushdowns this workout to increase the pump.
Noticing that if I do kickbacks afterwards (just the form - no weight) - really increases the pump).

Here’s Legs / Shoulders / Bi’s from Thursday (9/19)…didn’t get home till late, so I ended up dropping the curls from today’s workout - just didn’t have it in me. I think one of the issues was not having a pre-workout snack (typically have a protein bar about an hour before working out - I really think it does make a difference).

Front Delt lifts and pronating curls are just done with plates - need to get some dumbbells - but will probably start bumping it up and trying to use 2 plates

Felt good to get back to the point where I finally can squat my bodyweight again…

Squats / Military Presses:
110x12 / 45x12 / 140x10 / 55x12 / 180x10 / 65x12

Calf Raises / Front Delt Lifts
100x12 / 10x12 / 120x12 / 10x12 / 140x12 / 10x12

– Listened to my body and didn’t do any bicep work. Starting my workout at 8:30 was just too late…normally start around 6:00

[quote]e.jones wrote:
Was doing some searches on the web for “Weight Lifting in your 40’s” and came across this site. Saw some awesome posts by some 40+ lifters, and it prompted me to join.

Lifted mostly in my early 30’s…fast forward 15 years, and add a wife, 2 kids, and a demanding career (nothin you guys and gals aren’t already dealing with…). Decided to get back in the game.

Have always had some form of equipment at home - due to a devastating house fire a few years ago (a whole other story), I ended up buying a PowerTech work bench. Really like it because it’s self-spotting, and it’s a great compromise between machine and free weights.

Have finally gotten into a routine that seems to be working. My biggest challenge is time, so this is what I’ve been doing. Would like feedback/comments. I target 4 days, but don’t beat myself up too bad if I only get 3 in…

Upper Body (Chest / Back / Tri’s):

  • Start with a few minutes on the recumbent bike (just enough to get the blood flowing)
  • Flat Bench / Wide Grip Lat Pulls (I do 1 set of bench, then move over to lat pulls with no rest) - 3 sets of each
  • Incline Bench / Seated Rows (same principle as above) - 3 sets
  • Close Grip bench - 3 sets
  • Tricep pushdowns
  • Finish with a little crunch work

Lower Body:

  • Same warmup as above
  • Squats / Military presses - 3 sets
  • Calve raises / Front delt lifts - 3 sets
  • Standing curls (with EZ-Curl Bar) - 3 sets
  • Pronating curls - 3 sets
  • Again, finish with some crunch work

On some things I’m limited because I don’t have a good set of dumbells yet (so I use individual plates)

It’s going pretty well so far - like it because it’s pretty efficient - not much waiting between sets, so I’m ALWAYS moving.
Really starting to hit a stride where I’m breaking down the muscle pretty good - able to do increases most workouts (5# or 10# on small movements, 20# or 30# on larger movements like squats). Still finding that failure point…

Overall goals:

  • Get back in the game
  • Look better without a shirt
  • Lose some fat
  • Regain some muscle
    –> Biggest Goal Right Now: Maintain consistency…

Comments?[/quote]
Hi Brother: that’s great getting back in shape.I was a canadian 3rd place finisher in 1978 and worked as a truck driver.I hurt my low-back at 30ty tears of age.i really didn’t train from 30 to42 or so.I trained but half-assed.The good thing is that when we have a prior my injury i was in competitive condition.My point is in my opinion.Make time for your health,as ill health,or injury will give you no choice.One more thing? get your hormone level’s checked,as we qualify at our age for testosterone replacement therapy.Im 53,250Lb’s and have 12% bodyfat. Thanks for your post john

e-jones.Great getting back to your health is a vital achevement.This no time thing? When we get injured ,or suffer from our negleted health,then we have nothing but time,unfortunately then we are unable to train.I was 3rd in the mr.canada jr. division in 1978.I was 18yr’s old.I got seriosly injured at work when i was 30ty.The next 10yr’s was operations,depression,addiction to alcohol and pain med’s etc.I got back like yourself.!!Im 53 in great shape 6-2.240,with 10% bodyfat.Im really glad i came back to weight training.

One more thing my friend(Get your hormones checked)AS if you have Low testosterone muscle gain will not happen,plus bodyfat will not melt-off even with low calorie’s.I take Rx testosterone and it really makes a big difference. see ya john

I like the idea of playing with different elbow positioning while benching as you mention. My shoulders are pretty torn up from haphazard benching through the years, and earlier this year I had to give it up entirely. I tried every exercise under the sun to rehabilitate my rotator cuffs but the pain persisted.

Then I read an article about shoulder paing during benching and realized that perhaps I wasnt experiencing rotator cuff problems after all but just plain old pain in my shoulders in response to bad form. After laying off completely for a few months from benching, I started back from ground zero with my 5x5 at 95lbs but focused on relearning form with the elbows tucked in tighter versus flared out, which I think I had been doing all along.

I am up to 135lbs 5x5 and so far so good. No pain. I remember how I bounced back from my deadlift after being bedridden with severe low back pain at one point, I thought I’d never deadlift again, but starting with the empty bar I eventually was doing reps with 350lbs. I guess the point is, you cant be ashamed of posting low poundages here.

The idea, at least for me, is to progress slowly but steadily, and eventually get your poundages back. A couple years ago, I did a full uninterupted 20 week cycle (an amazing feat considering one has a job, family, etc.) and got my bench to where I could do 225lbs for 6. The two plates on each side being a minimum standard of strength in any gym around the globe.

I like the superset format of your workout, it offers a cardio component to the workout, and some argue there is a hytrophy component to it as well.

Chest / Back / Tri’s - 9/24/12

Had a pretty good one today - bumped Flat bench up 10#…felt pretty good on close grips - no elbow pain
Felt good on pushdowns - may bump it up another 5# for next workout

Flat bench / Wide Grip (Still supersetting, but listing weights/reps separately)
Flat Bench: 90x12 / 110x12 / 130x8
Wide Grip: 80x12 / 100x10 / 120x8

Incline / Seated Rows (supersets, listed separately)
Incline Bench: 60x12 / 80x12 / 100x8
Seated Rows: 50x12 / 70x12 / 90x6

Close Grip Bench
40x12 / 60x12 / 70x8

Pushdowns
35x12 / 45x12 / 55x12 / 40x12 (adding a 4th set…getting a decent pump)

Finished with 60 crunches

Feeling pretty good about my triceps - getting a decent pump
Not feeling good about biceps - really need to get some dumbells to work them properly
Really not feeling good about the gut - got a lot of fat that I need to get rid of. Probably need to do more cardio…but I’m more motivated to lift than I am to run…

Looks like I’m finally starting to hit failure points on my 3rd sets. Actually surprised that I’m still able to push out 12 reps as often as I do - even when I increase the weight.

[quote]goose64 wrote:
I like the idea of playing with different elbow positioning while benching as you mention. My shoulders are pretty torn up from haphazard benching through the years, and earlier this year I had to give it up entirely. I tried every exercise under the sun to rehabilitate my rotator cuffs but the pain persisted.

Then I read an article about shoulder paing during benching and realized that perhaps I wasnt experiencing rotator cuff problems after all but just plain old pain in my shoulders in response to bad form. After laying off completely for a few months from benching, I started back from ground zero with my 5x5 at 95lbs but focused on relearning form with the elbows tucked in tighter versus flared out, which I think I had been doing all along.

I am up to 135lbs 5x5 and so far so good. No pain. I remember how I bounced back from my deadlift after being bedridden with severe low back pain at one point, I thought I’d never deadlift again, but starting with the empty bar I eventually was doing reps with 350lbs. I guess the point is, you cant be ashamed of posting low poundages here.

The idea, at least for me, is to progress slowly but steadily, and eventually get your poundages back. A couple years ago, I did a full uninterupted 20 week cycle (an amazing feat considering one has a job, family, etc.) and got my bench to where I could do 225lbs for 6. The two plates on each side being a minimum standard of strength in any gym around the globe.

I like the superset format of your workout, it offers a cardio component to the workout, and some argue there is a hytrophy component to it as well. [/quote]

Goose - thanks again for the insights and the motivation brother…will keep pushing. Strength is coming back slowly - but more steadily than I thought. I’m noticing that I do get some cardio benefit from the supersetting - I’m actually out of breath on some sets and and really have to work on the breathing…I’m gonna keep chipping away…